Netanyahu vows to fight until ‘absolute victory,’ rejecting Hamas cease-fire demands

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has firmly rejected Hamas’ ceasefire and hostage-release conditions, dismissing them as “delusional.” He has also expressed strong criticism towards any agreement that would allow Hamas to maintain full or partial control over Gaza following the conflict.

He promised to continue Israel’s ongoing battle against Hamas, which has been ongoing for five months, until achieving “complete victory.”

During a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was visiting the region to negotiate a cease-fire agreement, Netanyahu expressed his thoughts on the matter.

During a televised evening news conference, Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasized that giving in to Hamas’ unrealistic demands would not only fail to secure the release of the captives but would also invite further acts of violence.

“We are heading towards an inevitable triumph,” he confidently declared, emphasizing that the operation’s duration would span several months rather than years. “There exists no alternative resolution.”

In terms of Gaza, he categorically rejected any agreement that would allow Hamas to maintain control. Furthermore, he emphasized that Israel is the sole entity capable of ensuring long-term security.

In his earlier statement, Blinken acknowledged that there is still a significant amount of work that needs to be done to find common ground between Israel and Hamas regarding the terms of a possible deal. He is scheduled to hold a separate news conference later today.

Hamas has presented a comprehensive plan, divided into three phases, with a timeline of 4 1/2 months. This plan is in response to a proposal put forth by the United States, Israel, Qatar, and Egypt. According to the plan, the release of all hostages would be contingent upon Israel freeing hundreds of Palestinians, including high-ranking militants, and bringing an end to the ongoing conflict.

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Israel is determined to dismantle Hamas’ governing and military capacities as part of its wartime goals. However, Hamas’ proposal would essentially enable them to retain control in Gaza and rebuild their military capabilities.

President Joe Biden acknowledged that Hamas’ demands may be excessive, but he emphasized the importance of continuing negotiations.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has witnessed its most devastating bout of violence, resulting in the loss of more than 27,000 Palestinian lives. This relentless warfare has not only left entire neighborhoods in ruins but has also forced the majority of Gaza’s inhabitants to flee their homes. As a consequence, a quarter of the population now faces the grim reality of starvation.

Iranian-backed militant groups in various regions have carried out attacks, primarily targeting U.S. and Israeli interests, as a show of support for the Palestinians. Consequently, these actions have sparked retaliatory responses, further escalating the potential for a broader conflict.

Israel is still in a state of shock following the devastating attack on October 7. During the attack, Hamas militants managed to infiltrate Israel’s strong defenses and wreak havoc across southern Israel. The attack resulted in the tragic loss of approximately 1,200 lives, with a majority of the victims being innocent civilians. Additionally, around 250 individuals were abducted during the attack, and to this day, approximately half of them remain in captivity in Gaza. The impact of this attack continues to reverberate throughout the country.

During his fifth visit to the region since the war broke out, Blinken is actively working towards progressing the cease-fire discussions. Simultaneously, he is also advocating for a broader postwar agreement that entails Saudi Arabia normalizing relations with Israel. In exchange for this, Blinken is seeking a “clear, credible, time-bound path” towards the establishment of a Palestinian state.

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However, Netanyahu, who is facing growing unpopularity, remains opposed to the idea of Palestinian statehood. His hawkish governing coalition might face collapse if he is perceived as making excessive concessions.

During a meeting with Israel’s ceremonial president, Isaac Herzog, Blinken expressed his commitment to the work that lies ahead. He emphasized the importance of the tasks at hand and reassured that they are fully dedicated to accomplishing them.

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